Master chef to cook up a storm at Fringe debut

(L-R): Nigel Slater (TV cook, author and journalist); Barry Bryson (Owner of Cater Edinburgh) and James Thompson (Food Director, 'Nigel Slater's Toast').
(L-R): Nigel Slater (TV cook, author and journalist); Barry Bryson (Owner of Cater Edinburgh) and James Thompson (Food Director, 'Nigel Slater's Toast').
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One of Scotland’s leading private chefs has been selected as the missing ingredient of esteemed food writer Nigel Slater’s new play Toast.

Barry Bryson, owner of Leith-based Cater Edinburgh, is making his Fringe debut serving up a culinary accompaniment to audiences at every show.

The 42-year-old has carved out an impressive career as one of Scotland’s most successful events’ caterers.

He has hosted parties for the likes of Raymond Blanc and the late Anthony Bourdain, as well as Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti.

When he is not busy as the main events caterer for Jupiter Artland, Bryson caters for high-rolling clients like Tesla, Louis Vuitton and Glenmorangie.

He said: “At Cater Edinburgh, we’ve almost ten years’ experience creating hand-made canapés and contemporary dining menus in a variety of locations, arts venues and pop-ups, but this is the first time we’re taking our work to the stage.”

Slater is the latest star to be won over by the Scottish chef. He said: “From the moment we met Barry, I knew we were in safe hands.”

This praise will surely come as a delight to Bryson, who recalls queuing to purchase the food writer’s award-winning autobiography, upon which the play is based.

“I still have my signed copy that I queued for in 2003 and have long been inspired by his unique style of cooking and his clear passion for creating food with integrity and flavour,” Bryson said.

For those not already familiar with Slater’s book, or the BBC film starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ken Stott, it is a poignant coming-of-age story that evokes the tastes and aromas of Slater’s childhood against the backdrop of 1960s suburban England.

While some elements of both book and film have been cut in Henry Filloux-Bennett’s new adaptation, the dishes woven throughout the narrative can finally take centre stage.

The audience will be treated to Cater Edinburgh’s food mid-performance, giving the play an unusual interactive edge.

Bryson and his team are whipping up lemon meringue pies in their hundreds for each show, following the recipe featured in Toast.

Slater said his new recruit had risen to the challenge, saying “none of our extraordinary requests for delicious treats for the audience or props for the production have fazed him”.

“He has handled this very challenging brief with expertise and good humour,” Slater said.

Bryson has made his name by focusing on top Scottish ingredients rather than moving with the rise and fall of food trends.

While his Fife upbringing may have differed to the play’s English backdrop, Bryson said he had found affinity with the play’s subject matter.

He said: “My mother was my first cooking inspiration, so much of Toast resonates with me.

“I can’t wait to team up with my food hero and help give Toast the culinary flair it deserves”.

Toast runs until August 26 at the Traverse Theatre after opening last night.